As a dog owner, how many times have you been caught by surprise about some aspect of caring for your dog? Something you didn't know about grooming a particular type of coat, or about how deal with a dog's joint pain, or safety issues in your home, or even the best way to pick up your dog? Now there's a single resource you can turn to.

A new book written by the experts at Adopt-A-Pet addresses hundreds of topics that dog owners will encounter as they care for their four-legged best friends.

"The Total Dog Manual" is a 265-page tome that covers every topic you can think of when it comes to having a dog as a companion — from what to consider when thinking about bringing home a dog to training, grooming, toys and tricks, food and vet care, senior dog needs and even recovering from the grief of saying goodbye to an old friend. Each topic is briefly covered with the essential information, and supplemented with tons of great photographs.

We talked with David Meyer, president and co-founder of and co-author of the manual, about some of the topics covered in the manual and gained more insight about dog ownership.

The closest thing you'll ever have to a Users Manual for dogs is this thorough handbook. The closest thing you'll ever have to a user's manual for dogs is this thorough handbook. (Photo:

MNN: This manual covers just about anything you can think of that pops up as a question from owners, from the moment they think about getting a dog to after you say goodbye to your senior BFF. How did you create the list of what would be covered?

David Meyer: We pulled together our team of dog experts and together thought through every stage of the human/dog bond — from thinking about getting a pet, to adoption, to care and training, and then to saying goodbye. It was a long list!

One of the topics covered is getting a home ready for a dog, including figuring out what kind of dog would best fit your lifestyle. What'ss the No. 1 piece of advice you give to people looking to bring home a dog as a companion?

I think the No. 1 bit of advice is to have people ask themselves “Am I ready to make a commitment to care for this living being for 10 years or more, including all the costs of food and vet care, and the need to always live in a place that allows a dog?” If the answer to that is yes, then they are ready to start thinking about finding the perfect dog for their lifestyle.

The manual covers not only training and care but also essential products including collars, leashes, toys and grooming products. Are there any items that you consider a must-have for every dog?

A Chuck-it type of ball thrower is certainly a must-have if you get a dog that is obsessed with chasing and retrieving a ball. Obviously, a collar, microchip, ID tag and leash are must-haves as basic safety equipment. Honestly, just as with a child, the real must-have is not a product at all. It is the attributes of patience and love.

Everything from tips for treats and toys to understanding dog body language is covered in The Total Dog Manual.Everything from tips for treats and toys to understanding dog body language is covered in 'The Total Dog Manual.' (Photo:

"The Total Dog Manual" is jam-packed with advice on pretty much every topic a dog owner may need to know about. Many of the bits of info are springboards for owners to go research more about the particular topic, like certain aspects of training or dog health. What are some of the resources you recommend for dog owners who want to delve farther into a topic introduced in your manual?

There are a myriad of good books and websites that deal deeply with dog health, care and training so it is hard to single one out. We are, though, particular fans of "Clicking With Your Dog: Step-By-Step in Pictures" and Karen Pryor clicker books for training.

Mixed in with the manual are Dog Tales, special stories about individual dogs like Arthur, a stray dog who followed an endurance race team through South America and was later adopted, and Jasper, a senior dog abandoned by his owners who found a loving forever home. What do you find most inspiring about dog adoption stories?

Moving dog adoption stories usually have three sides. There is often a story of a dog that through no fault of her own was in a bad situation, and then a story of a rescuer who was able to connect with the dog and help nurse her back to health, and the a story of a loving adopter who opened their heart to the dog. In a perfect world, the first story will never occur — no dog will ever come on hard times, be abandoned or abused, or need care to get back to health. Every adoption, even when it is a simple as someone who just couldn’t keep their perfectly nice dog, and someone else who adopted her, is still a heartwarming story of love and giving.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

'The Total Dog Manual' walks you through every aspect of caring for a dog
Everything you ever wanted to know about dogs (including things you didn't know you need to know!) is in one handy book.